By Clay Wilson
Friends Angela Yarbrough and Abby Manion were going to be separated by the opening of Luella High School.
Manion will be entering the new school as a junior, while Yarbrough, also a rising junior, was to remain at Henry County High School.
But after a Wednesday afternoon wreck, Yarbrough and her fellow student Cooper Collins won't be attending HCHS, and Manion is left to struggle with a much more profound separation.
"She was one of my best friends," said Manion in a voice choked with tears. "She was the best person anyone could have as a friend."
Yarbrough and Collins, both 16, were killed in a one-car wreck on McGarity Road near McDonough. Yarbrough's 3-year-old nephew, Hayden, suffered apparently minor injuries in the wreck.
According to the Henry County Bureau of Police Services report on the wreck, Yarbrough was heading east on McGarity when she apparently lost control of the 2002 Ford Mustang she was driving. The Mustang left the south shoulder of the roadway and spun around, crashing the driver's side into a tree.
Rescue workers had to extricate the victims from the wreckage. Both Angela Yarbrough and Collins died on the scene, according to the report.
Hayden Yarbrough was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. On Thursday, Grady representatives said Yarbrough had not been admitted there. Henry Police Lt. Joe Tammaro said it was his understanding that the child "is going to be OK."
Tammaro said police don't know what caused Yarbrough to lose control of the car. Routine drug and alcohol tests were performed on her, but the report shows there was no indication that alcohol was involved.
The wreck occurred at 5:21, around the height of a rainstorm in the McDonough area. The road was still wet and the sky still sprinkling as police began their investigation of the crash later in the evening.
Opal Moore, the grandmother of Abby Manion's boyfriend Jason, lives just down the road from where the wreck occurred. Jason Moore and Manion arrived at Moore's house shortly after the crash, and Manion learned of her friend's death.
"It's so sad, and it happened right under our nose," Moore said.
She also said that Yarbrough's mother pulled up to the scene shortly after the wreck, as well. She said it occurred less than half a mile from Yarbrough's Christie Lane house.
"She was a beautiful child. She was a sweet child ? She was just like one of my young ?uns," said Moore, who noted that Yarbrough called her "Granny."
At Henry County High School, less than five miles from the accident scene, teachers and administrators also sought to come to grips with the loss of two students.
"Young people aren't supposed to die," said Principal Andy Giddens. " ? It's hard for me to accept a young person losing their life like this.
"Anytime a tragedy such as this occurs, it affects everybody ? We hate it for their families, we hate it for their school family."
"It's going to be a somber first day of school," said HCHS technology instructor Michael Montroy.
Montroy, who knew Yarbrough from one of his classes, said he had warned his students at the end of last year to be careful over the summer.
"I told those kids, ?Ya'll have a good time but be careful, because I want to see your faces here next year," he said.
Tammy Wright, the school's counseling secretary, said she knew Collins through her son, Michael Wright. She said her son and Collins would "hang out" at football games and talked on the telephone frequently.
"(Collins was) very polite, very well-mannered," Tammy Wright said. "Every time I saw him in the hall, he always spoke."
Giddens said that both Collins and Yarbrough were popular students, and that their deaths will leave a hole as school starts back up for the year.
"Certainly they will be missed," he said. "No doubt about that."